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Barclays Premier League

Goodison Park (ATT 36,396) 14th March 2009 - Kick off 15:00 Ref: A Marriner

Everton Everton vs Stoke City Stoke City

Everton v Stoke preview

Potters hope to avoid coming unstuck at Toffees

Last Updated: 13/03/09 10:35am

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Moyes: Pushing for Europe

Moyes: Pushing for Europe

Everton will be looking to cement their top-six standing when they play host to Stoke on Saturday.

PREDICTIONS: Skysports.com prediction: 2-0 SKYBET odds: Everton 1/2, Draw 3/1, Stoke 6/1 One to Watch: Tim Cahill Bet on Saturday's match

The Toffees appear to be well on course to secure European football for next season, with their final position all which remains to be resolved.

They currently sit four points adrift of fifth-placed Arsenal, while they will not have given up hope of making significant inroads into the seven-point cushion which separates them from Aston Villa, and a UEFA Champions League place.

With the battle at the top hotting up, David Moyes' side will be optimistic about adding three vital points to their tally this weekend.

They have lost just once in their last 11 top-flight fixtures on home soil and have kept five clean sheets in their last six Goodison Park outings.

They are also unbeaten in eight against the Potters, a run which includes a 3-2 victory at the Britannia Stadium in September.

Stoke, therefore, enter the game as underdogs as they look to secure priceless points in their battle against the drop.

Tony Pulis' men sit just a point above the relegation zone with 10 games remaining.

A three-match unbeaten run has helped their cause, but they do have the worst away record in the Premier League - picking up just four points from a possible 42.

The Potters have also managed just two clean sheets on their travels this term, with two or more goals conceded in each of the other 12 fixtures.

They can, however, boast a striker in James Beattie who is in red-hot form and he will be desperate to put one over on his former employers.

Injury woes

While Everton will be in positive mood heading into the contest, the Goodison Park treatment room continues to be well-stocked.

Tony Hibbert will miss out this weekend with a thigh problem, while James Vaughan continues to struggle with a knee complaint.

Victor Anichebe, Mikel Arteta (both knee) and Yakubu Aiyegbeni (calf) have been ruled out for the remainder of the season, while Nuno Valente is still carrying a knee injury of his own.

No worries

In contrast, Stoke will enter the weekend encounter with a clean bill of health.

Pulis has no fresh injury or suspension concerns to contend with as his side make the trip to Merseyside.

The only decision for the Potters boss to make will be whether to return Ricardo Fuller to his starting XI after the Jamaica international stepped off the bench to grab a vital goal in last week's 2-0 win over Bolton.

Possible starting XIs

Everton: Howard, Neville, Yobo, Lescott, Baines, Pienaar, Rodwell, Fellaini, Osman, Cahill, Saha.

Stoke: Sorensen, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Abdoulaye Faye, Higginbotham, Lawrence, Whelan, Diao, Delap, Beattie, Fuller.

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Matches

Table

Barclays Premier League

Barclays Premier League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Liverpool 34 77
2 Chelsea 34 75
3 Manchester City 33 71
4 Arsenal 34 67
5 Everton 34 66
6 Tottenham Hotspur 34 60
7 Manchester United 33 57
8 Southampton 34 48
9 Newcastle United 34 46
10 Stoke City 34 43
11 Crystal Palace 34 40
12 West Ham United 34 37
13 Hull City 33 36
14 Aston Villa 33 34
15 Swansea City 34 33
16 West Bromwich Albion 33 33
17 Norwich City 34 32
18 Fulham 34 30
19 Cardiff City 34 29
20 Sunderland 33 26

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